Posted in about me, storytelling

Where do ideas come from?

“I would write, but I have nothing to write about. Where do you get all of these ideas?”

They come from … anywhere. Everywhere. I just need to pay attention.

The guy we see sitting at the bus stop on our way to school every morning.

Three people who made different comments about the same event.

Seeing a parent do something to or for their kid that triggers an emotional response, whether good or bad.

Tangents from things I’m already writing.

Writing prompts from a variety of places.

Memories on social media.

Experiencing something somehow differently than usual … or noticing the same-ness.

Something my kid said or did.

An idea or a phrase from a book or a video or a podcast or a conversation, whether mine or overheard.

What’s interesting to me is that the people who ask are invariably people who can tell stories for days—they just don’t write them down.

Sometimes my inspiration yields a page or two nearly instantly. Sometimes, I make some notes in my “ideas to write about” file. Sometimes I start to write and hit a dead end and leave the unfinished piece for later. Sometimes I have the whole thing written except the end and it sits and stews that way for a while. If the end isn’t organic, I struggle with it.

There’s not a linear path to doing the writing, and it feels like every day is different, but there’s no shortage of ideas. The more I write, the more I have to write. The first day back at writing after not writing for two or three days is the hardest. Just like the first day back at running or the first day back at eating well. Taking a breath is sometimes necessary but I can’t hold that breath too long. 

Posted in about me, hope, mindset, storytelling

The beginning … and just the next day

8:30 a.m., January 1

I woke up around my usual time, the result of the relentless internal alarm clock. I used to sleep in whenever the alarm clock was blissfully unemployed, but years of waking at the same time seem to have taken their toll, and despite going to sleep after midnight, I was awake by six.

(The Kid has never been an early riser—can’t blame it on him.)

Sitting on the couch, my legs under The Kid’s new burrito blanket (literally a blanket that looks like a tortilla), one of the dogs asleep next to me on the couch. The other dog, The Climbing Daddy, and The Kid still asleep.

I’m both envious of their sleep and grateful for time to myself in a quiet house.

Most calendar milestones have never held a lot of sway for me. Birthdays are fun but the age is irrelevant (except 17, when I could get my drivers license).

Birthday, cancer-related milestones, and the beginning of the new year all offer me an excuse to be reflective (though there are certainly prompts many days that offer the same opportunity). The time around January 1 offers me a socially-acceptable time to talk about it.

Resolutions? Nah. When I want to make a change, I either start right away, or I wait until I’m ready, but the date has nothing to do with readiness.

All that said, this year is different than most. I resigned my teaching position due to COVID concerns, so on Monday, I don’t have a job to go to.

But I do have a book to edit.

Perhaps, at least for the beginning of 2021, I am a writer.

That feels weird. Not bad, just … different. Unexpected? A plot twist, if you will. It was set up beautifully, and I’m curious to see where it goes, where I go.

I know that before the end of 2021, I will have a completed book. Will I have another started? I have a lot to write about, but is any of the rest of it book material? Questions I have but don’t yet need to answer—I have enough to work on for the moment.

For 2021, I’ll also be continuing to improve my photography game. There’s a lot kicking around in my head about that as well, but it’s more muddled than the writing bits (which is good—one focus at a time). Regardless, I’ll continue to bring you along on the journey with my posts on Sundays.

I have goals for the state of the house, for relationships, for my inner state, for my habits. Those are ongoing—not new to today—and are always somewhat in a state of flux.

Except for clearing out the clutter. That is always the same, and no matter how much clutter I clear, there’s still more. I know, it means I’m not clearing out enough. Also, we have too much incoming. I’d like to think that if we hadn’t chosen to buy a relatively small house, we wouldn’t have this problem because we’d have room for all the stuff, but I know lack of space isn’t the problem—I just want it to be the problem.

Once ever in my life, or maybe ever in my adult life, I had everything put away.

Once! I met George Carlin once. I climbed a 100-foot rock face once. I moved across the country once. I gave birth once. And I put all my stuff away once.

When I moved into the condo where I lived prior to this house, I unpacked and got everything put away. Everything. Not a single little pile of “miscellaneous,” nor a box of it stuffed in a closet.

It felt so good.

I’ve gotten married more times than I’ve had every last thing in its place.

It’s hard. And with two other not-neat-freak people in the house, it’s harder.

Perhaps this will be the year of a place for everything and everything in its place. To make that happen, I need a plan. To make that viable, everyone needs to be on board with the plan. I foresee a family meeting.

Growing up, I hated family meetings. But they were only called when we were in trouble, or when we were consulted for something that generally kids shouldn’t be consulted for. The most noteworthy—my mom called a family meeting when I was in high school to ask us (my siblings and I) if my parents should get divorced.

So … there’s a little baggage that goes along with family meetings.

Back to clutter. If the house burned down, what would I replace? What is irreplaceable and worth keeping? Why can’t I just get rid of the rest? Every now and then, I get in a good frame of mind to purge and can go from five pair of scissors to two. (There’s always one pair just for cutting tape, because they end up sticky and I don’t want to deal with getting the stick off.) Most of the time, though, I can rationalize having five pairs of scissors.

The scissors, you understand, are just a placeholder in the story. It could be pens, glasses, crafting supplies, notebooks, shirts, socks without toes, winter pajamas, and on and on.

The household is waking. My quiet time is over. To that end, 2021 starts the same way 2020 ended—it’s just the next day.

Posted in about me, differences, ebb & flow, food, mindset, storytelling

Thanksgiving 2020

Climbing Daddy and I have a tradition of going to a National Park or Monument or something similar for Thanksgiving; Tall Daddy and The Kid go to his family’s Thanksgiving.

We decided we wouldn’t go this year. The parks have never been crowded on Thanksgiving Day, but we’d have to stay somewhere. Camping is always an option, but it’s too cold to camp anywhere driving distance from here (at least, driving distance for a 2- or 3-day trip). Maybe or maybe not for Climbing Daddy; definitely for me.

Also, because the world is out of whack, maybe the parks were more crowded than usual this year. That would be sad irony.

The tradition of going to a park—and hunting for somewhere in these sparsely populated areas to eat Thanksgiving dinner—has done an excellent job of breaking the painful connections of holidays with my family.

As such, I didn’t feel obligated to even celebrate the holiday at all. No inner tension or conflict. Felt great!

But it’s not all about me (what?!), and Tall Daddy was joining us, so we made a menu.

The Kid and I made spaghetti from scratch. We made the dough as a joint effort, and aside from the one or two pieces I demonstrated on, The Kid rolled and cut all of the spaghetti himself! He was proud of his work.

Also in the morning, we made the apple pie from PostSecret. It was easy to make and tasted delicious. I decided to buy a pie crust instead of making one, in light of all the other things we were making from scratch, and that was a good choice.

The Kid went to Tall Daddy’s to spend a few hours in the afternoon (where he chopped veggies for salad) and I made two-hour crockpot bread and sauce for the spaghetti.

Climbing Daddy made some caprese on toothpicks with basil from the garden (tomatoes aren’t ready yet; hoping they ripen before it frosts). He realized The Kid wouldn’t have anything while we ate caprese (The Kid doesn’t like them—whose kid is this?!) and made toothpick snacks from apple, orange, and kiwi instead.

The meal was ample and delicious, and it kept with the tradition of spending a lot of time preparing food for one meal. That wasn’t a goal, but we did create this menu because it’s too time-intensive to have on a typical day.

I joke that I went back to my roots for Thanksgiving this year (my dad’s mom’s side of the family is all Italian), but we always had American Thanksgiving growing up, no matter which grandparents we shared the meal with. I’ve heard stories about Italian Thanksgiving prepared by the generation before, but that baton had been passed on by the time I was around.

We ate all of the salad and caprese, but we have enough of everything else left over for another meal, maybe two.

After dinner, we Zoomed with some friends and played Code Names online. (That link takes you to the game, but there aren’t directions if you don’t already know how to play the game.)

Also in the morning, in the midst of food prep, The Kid and I ran a “turkey trot.” The intention was 5k, but he hasn’t been running much and it wasn’t worth it. We ran just over two miles, and that was plenty.

Thanksgiving this year was not at all what we expected it would be, based on recent years, but we pivoted and had a great day.

How did your day turn out?